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Learnings In A Year Post-Lockdown: Narinder Mahajan, ODN

The unexpected is here and for businesses to remain relevant, they need to go digital and align their goals and objectives to achieve a positive ROI, especially when marketing budget is shrinking by the day.


As the global pandemic unfolded, it left behind emotional turmoil and unprecedented havoc in its wake. Nevertheless, like the silver lining to every adversity, this time too taught me a lot of crucial lessons which have become my mantras for a happy and wholesome life. During the nationwide lockdown, just like thousands of others, I too worked from home and worked the home simultaneously. In all that time I got to spend at home, I did not just work but also introspected about how the ongoing events are not just moulding my company but our entire digital industry. On the professional front, how leaders use this time will shape the future of the businesses.

Even before the lockdown, digital marketing landscape was witnessing a boom in the past few years. It has achieved such a stature in the success of businesses that no matter what an enterprise sells, it cannot afford to overlook it. Brands of all sizes – big to small – are turning to digital marketing to reach out to their target audience. Every person is online, whether while walking on the road or driving their car or while having dinner, as they try to deal with the after-effects of the pandemic.

Computers and smart phones have been our window to the world as we strove to remain connected to our loved ones or hung onto for every little news update. Therefore, online is where every business needs to be right now as this is the best time for them to realign and refocus their marketing efforts for best outcomes.

Here are some of my takeaways from the time spent in lockdown:

Industry Level

1. The Digital is more 'Bank'-able - We all have seen a rapid surge in brands realizing the importance and reach of digital. Not just e-commerce but overall data consumption at social channels and OTTs shot up 300% in the months of April and May indicating a huge chunk of eyeballs coming and asking for more and more content to consume.

2. Marketing Shifts - Due to fast-changing and unpredictable consumers behaviour, agility has become a core value for many brands. Marketing budgets have shifted to digital almost entirely. Contactless commerce and Omni-Channel strategies are on high time usage.

3. There will be no “return to normal” - The shift is permanent, not temporary. Digital platformification of everything including education, work, stock trading is going to stay which was never a normal. To stay competitive, organizations must respond to these behavioural changes and meet emerging customer demands.

4. It’s unnecessary to be on every digital channel–Now more than ever, businesses want results. It’s tough to justify a company’s presence on a social media network and the investment that went in it if it does not generate the outcomes expected. When a crisis strikes, the immediate response of brands is to opt for paid advertising or social media

marketing. While some brands focused on organic social media promotions, there were many who took to paid social media. Other digital marketing tactics were put on the back burner for the time being. Such developments tell us that in times of upheaval, we first need to focus on the most relevant digital marketing channels so that, second, they bring in the highest ROI possible for the business.

Going forward, businesses, brands and organizations all need to embrace digital channels not just to triumph over periods of catastrophes, but to make it a fundamental part of the entire marketing strategy. In times of crisis like this, a robust digital strategy is what will drive unparalleled business growth.


Company Level

1. Courage always pays well - ODN had the option to retract, pause operations, or even ask people to leave. Instead, we tread in the opposite direction and aggressively reached out to brands offering them solutions to go online when their offline business was suffering.

2. We are together - I saw some real brave team members going out of the way and reaching the office in later months just to keep the company afloat since we are a content production company as well. It was a big learning that together as a team we are unbeatable.

3. Core Beliefs Matter - Sticking to the core culture and values of the company has made us very strong as a team today. We didn't ask anyone to leave during the early lockdown days even if we had zero revenues for a couple of months.


Parting Note

Lastly, I believe it’s very important that we appreciate those around us. This involves not just our near and dear ones, but even those who work with us. Even those who work behind the scenes matter for the success of a company. The accountants, admin staff, the paperwork people, even the guy who would make my favourite cup of green tea – all had a role to play in making my life much easier. The unexpected is here and for businesses to remain relevant, they need to go digital and align their goals and objectives to achieve a positive ROI, especially when marketing budget is shrinking by the day.


The author is Narinder Mahajan, CEO and Co-FounderODN Digital Services

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